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In this chapter, and part of the following, the apostle urges the duty of mutual forbearance and charity, in respect to non-essential points of difference. Among the Roman Christians these had respect to certain outward distinctions of food, days, and the like. These would be best overcome, not by scornful and bitter judgments of each other, but by the spirit of mutual love and conciliation.
Him that is weak in the faith ; namely, the faith of the gospel. The apostle has in mind the conscientious believer, who has not attained to such enlarged views of the liberty of the gospel as to raise him above bondage to unessential outward observances.
Receive ye ; to your fellowship, treat him as a Christian.
Not to doubtful disputations ; or, not to discernings of thoughts; in other words, not for the purpose of setting yourselves up to try and pass judgment upon his religious scruples. Persons may have erroneous views with regard to many unessential things, and yet be real Christians; and those who give evidence of being received of Christ as his disciples, should be received by us, and treated as Christian brethren.
Eat all things ; any wholesome food.
Who is weak ; ignorant of what is proper on this subject.
Eateth herbs ; lives on vegetables and abstains from flesh, lest he should be defiled by the use of it.
Him that eateth ; all kinds of wholesome food indiscriminately, having attained, in this respect, to a true idea of the liberty of the gospel.
Despise ; the sin to which men of liberal views are especially tempted.
Him which eateth not ; eateth not flesh, because he has scruples of conscience in respect to the use of it.
Judge ; in a condemnatory way. This is the sin to which conscientious men of narrow views are particularly prone.
God hath received him ; as a Christian, and admits him to fellowship with himself. We should never despise any on account of their errors, or their supposed inferiority to ourselves; nor condemn them for following their own consciences, not ours; but we should endeavor to enlighten them as to the will of God, and set them an example of obeying it.
His own master ; Jesus Christ.
He standeth or falleth ; he will be approved or condemned, not according to the correctness of his views about the ceremonial law, or outward forms and ceremonies, but according to his character as a friend or enemy of Christ.
He ; the true Christian, though feeble, and in some respects erring.
Shall be holden up ; sustained as a Christian and accepted; for, God is able , and he has promised to do it.
Esteemeth one day above another ; because the ceremonial law, which he erroneously thinks is still binding, makes a distinction between different days of the week. One observes the Jewish feasts and fasts, the other does not. The apostle here has no reference to the difference of days spoken of in the moral law. He speaks in this chapter about that difference which is associated with meats and drinks, divers washings, and various other things contained in the ceremonial law.
Be fully persuaded ; let a man examine and ascertain by the best light he can what is right, and do as he conscientiously believes that God requires. He should not, in such matters, be forced to follow another’s conscience, but should be permitted, in the exercise of his inalienable right, to follow his own.
He giveth God thanks ; the Christian who regards days and meats according to Jewish ceremonies, and the Christian who does not, both act from religious motives, and for the purpose of honoring God. This they show by thanking him for his mercies. They should therefore be received and treated by each other as friends of God. No man should do what he does not believe to be right; and the great object of every man in what he does, and in what he forbears to do, should be to honor God and benefit his fellow-men.
None of us liveth to himself ; the great object of every Christian, in life and death, is not himself, but Jesus Christ. His language is, Not my will, but thine be done.
We are the Lord’s ; we seek his glory, are governed by his will, and belong to his redeemed people.
To this end ; that he might be Lord of his redeemed people dead and living, on earth and in heaven, he died, rose, and ascended to glory, where he now lives; head over all things to his church, and will in due time come to judge the world in righteousness. It follows that our aim should be his glory, and the edification of his people; not the promotion of our own private ends. Christ is the rightful owner and governor of the whole family, especially of his redeemed people. All should therefore give him the homage of their hearts and the obedience of their lives, treat his friends as their friends, and love them heartily for his sake. Galatians 6:10 .
Of Christ ; our rightful and proper judge.
For it is written ; Isaiah 45:21-25 . What is said by Isaiah of Jehovah, the apostle here applies to Christ, and thus shows that he is Jehovah, God the judge of all.
As Christ is to be the final judge of men, and we are to give account each of himself to him, and be accepted or condemned according to his decision, we should live as under his inspection, and make it our great object so to act that he will say to us, Well done, good and faithful servants; enter ye into the joy of your Lord. Matthew 25:21 .
Not therefore judge ; not assume the place of Christ in judging his servants, but leave that to him to whom it belongs, and who will judge according to truth.
Judge this rather ; decide this rather in your minds. The apostle intentionally uses the word judge in a double sense; as much as to say, Instead of deciding on your brethren’s conduct, decide this rather, to lay no stumbling-block before them.
Persuaded by the Lord Jesus ; convinced by knowledge received from him.
Nothing unclean of itself ; the distinction between clean and unclean meats, and different days of ceremonial observance, is now done away, and it is as lawful to eat one kind of healthy food as another.
To him it is unclean ; if a man really believe it wrong for him to eat meat, for him it is wrong, because it is wrong to violate his conscience.
Be grieved with thy meat ; if your eating meat grieves and injures a brother.
Walkest thou not charitably ; provided you continue to eat it. Love to him requires you to abstain from it.
Destroy not him ; by doing that which tends to ruin him or make him miserable. Christ endured the agonies of the cross to make him blessed; you, as a friend of Christ, redeemed with his blood, ought, if need be, to deny yourself for the same end.
Your good ; your knowledge of your Christian liberty and freedom from the ceremonial law, which is a real good.
Be evil spoken of ; be an occasion of reproach and blame, by your using your liberty in such a manner as to injure others, or dishonor Christ. A course of conduct may be right in some respects and in some circumstances, and wrong in others, on account of the different effects which it will produce. In order, therefore, to justify an act, it is not enough that it is not in its nature sinful, but it must also be suited, in the circumstances, to do good.
The kingdom of God ; his reign in the soul, and true obedience to him, do not consist in the observance or non-observance of distinctions between meats and drinks, and other like outward things; whence it follows that on the side of both the weak and the strong there should be forbearance and kindness.
But righteousness , and peace , and joy in the Holy Ghost ; it consists rather in being just, benevolent, and merciful; at peace with God and one another, rejoicing in his government, and in hope, through grace, of dwelling with him for ever in heaven.
Serveth Christ ; though it is written, "Worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve," Matthew 4:10 , yet he that serveth Christ is acceptable to God. The reason is, Christ is God. Chap Romans 9:5 ; John 1:1 ; Hebrews 1:6-8 .
For meat destroy not ; do not, for the sake of your own indulgence, injure the religious character of your brother, or do any thing which shall tend to destroy him.
All things indeed are pure ; all kinds of wholesome food are in themselves innocent, but if your partaking of them causes your brother to sin, or injures him, it is wrong for you to do it.
It is good ; duty requires us to abstain from indulgences which lead others to sin, injure their character, hinder their usefulness, prevent their enjoyment, or endanger their souls. It is often a duty to avoid the doing of things which, though not in themselves wrong, will become the occasion of evil to our fellow-men.
Hast thou faith? do you believe that the ceremonial law is abolished, and that it is right for you to eat all kinds of food? be grateful to God for this light, but do not use it in such a manner as to injure others.
Happy is he ; who does not allow himself in things which his conscience condemns, or the propriety of which he doubts. Self-denial as to personal gratifications, for the sake of others, is an evidence of great excellence and a means of rich enjoyment. Those who make proper efforts to ascertain what is right, and who do only what they believe to be so, will be truly blessed in the approbation of conscience and of God; while those who do what they do not believe to be right, will be condemned both by themselves and their Maker.
He that doubteth ; the lawfulness of any thing, and yet does it when there is no doubt about the lawfulness of abstaining from it, is damned ; condemned as guilty of sin.
Whatsoever is not of faith ; whatever a man cannot do with a clear conscience, believing it to be right. The apostle is speaking of those things which are in themselves indifferent, and about which the true friends of Christ may honestly differ.
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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Romans 14". "Edwards' Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34